From the refuge of my home, where I have hidden out behind my grief these past several months, I couldn't help but notice the commotion that passed in the late afternoon. I heard the sirens, saw the succession of flashing lights speeding up the main road, and attributed it to a racing firetruck. It wasn't until a neighbor visited tonight with the news, that I put the pieces of what I heard, and what he was telling me, together.
The story he told was one of youth and tragedy, and like so many that have come before it. It was the story of a sixteen year old girl without a driver's license, her sister's stolen car, a bend taken too quickly, and a vigil of candles now lighting the street where she drew her last breath. I am only 29, high school still feels like yesterday, and yet I heard this story with new ears tonight.
In the past, when told of such sad news, I have always related to the speeding teen. I could identify with their youth, the reckless behavior and false sense of being invincible. I would feel angry that they had been robbed of time, and grieve for their short life, lost before ever having the chance to take flight. What I failed to truly understand was what this meant for those that had to go on living without them. It's not that I didn't care, it's that I didn't really know.
Tonight it hit me, that my perspective on hearing such a story is so profoundly changed. My heart sank with the knowledge that this poor woman, nameless and faceless to me, has been forced by circumstance into her first day in hell, and I began to pray for her to have the courage and the will to make it back. Losing a child is searing and unforgiving in its hurt. It pounds at you body and soul, without reprieve. I know of the struggle she will have just for breath these first weeks, of the darkness that lies ahead, the questioning and the guilt and the anger. It is a pain that no bereaved mother ever wants another to feel. Tonight I cry not only for that girl's life, cut so tragically and senselessly short, but also for her mother, who I know has just lost a piece of her soul, gone forever with her child at that bend in the road.